Outsource Vs. Crowdsource Testing

outsource vs crowdsource testing

Testing is, without a doubt, one of the most important parts of the software development process. What happens though when your project is in full swing, and you realize that you don’t have the resources to support the testing? There are a couple of options. You can overwork your QA team or look for testing resources elsewhere – in this case, in the form of outsource or crowdsource testing.



Outsource & Crowdsource Testing Defined:

Outsource testing occurs when you send your software to a third-party company for testing. By sending your software to this company, your organization can concentrate on other aspects of this project.

Crowdsource testing is very similar to outsource testing – companies have their software tested elsewhere than in-house. What is different with crowdsource testing, however, is that the testing isn’t done by a team of quality assurance professionals within one organization. The software is instead sent out to a variety of individuals who have signed up to be testers. These people are located all over the world, and use different platforms, equipment, and browsers.


Advantages of Outsource Testing:

A confidential environment: When an organization uses an outsource testing method, the company doesn’t have to worry about who is seeing their software. They can rest assured that the organization and its employees are keeping their data secure.

Ease of communication: When an organization needs to communicate with the quality assurance team about specific bugs, it is much easier to speak with an outsource testing team. Everyone works together and are therefore easier to track down when more details are needed.

Committed to finding both the small and big bugs: The quality assurance team for an outsource testing organization is committed to quality and not quantity. In other words, since they are not being paid by the number of bugs they find but for their time, they’re more likely to find and address the larger program bugs.


Advantage of Crowdsource Testing:

A larger talent pool: With crowdsource testing, companies aren’t limited to a firm’s local talent pool, but have the whole world at their hands. Technologists from all over the world, with a variety of different backgrounds, are able to weigh in on a project. The larger, varied talent pool often makes for a better end product.

More technical resources: Crowdsource testing relies on people from all over the world – people with different devices, internet browsers, and operating platforms. The variety of technical resources used greater reflects user experience, and allows for more bugs to be found than would be in a firm where people are using the same equipment setup.

Cost-effective: Organizations don’t pay for the hours of labor these crowdsourced individuals put into debugging the program. They are paid by the number of bugs found, keeping testing costs down.

Around the clock work: With crowdsource testing, companies have programmers from all over the world testing around the clock. As a result, crowdsource testing is often more time effective. The organization’s programmers can have a list of bugs that have been found overnight as soon as they walk into the office.


Disadvantages of Outsource Testing:

More expensive: Outsource testing tends to be more expensive than crowdsource testing for two reasons. First of all, an outsource team bills the organization by hour of labor, and not by bug found. A company has to take it on good faith that the outsource team is working diligently during those hours, and not just drawing out their work in order to gain more money. Secondly, with outsource testing, there is an office and other overhead team costs. The fees outsource teams charge have these overhead figures built into them, overhead costs not found with remote crowdsource testing teams.

Local talent pool: While firms undoubtedly put together the best outsource teams they can, they are limited to local talent. This can be limiting; people are more likely to have similar technical backgrounds and expertise, which means that there are potential holes in the testing process. Furthermore, these individuals probably speak the same language, or the same two or three. When developing a global application, this can be problematic as language barriers won’t be tested in the way that they can be with crowdsource testing.

Similar technical equipment: While outsource firms test across a variety of platforms, it is likely that the testing is done on very similar equipment, with very similar hardware, and browsers. As a result, outsource teams are less likely to replicate real user experience, and find the bugs that could potentially arise with different browser versions, hardware updates, etc.


Disadvantages of Crowdsource Testing:

Confidentiality: If a company has not yet released its software, sending it out to a crowdsource team can be worrisome. The organization doesn’t know exactly who’s going to be seeing the new software, and security questions arise.

Paid by found bug: Another worry about crowdsource testing is that people are paid for the bugs found. As a result, it is theorized that people will only look for the small, easier to find bugs instead of attacking the large bugs that truly need to be addressed.

Management: While the crowdsource testing methodology ensures that people are available to detect bugs around the clock, having people working all over the world on a project also makes it hard to manage a company’s software testing process. This can be daunting to project managers who like to be more hands-on and know exactly where the project is, and how much longer it will take to review the software for bugs.



While outsource and crowdsource testing are very similar to one another, they both have their advantages and disadvantages. Outsource testing ensures that you know who has access to your program, making it easier to manage. Crowdsource testing, on the other hand, is a cost-effective alternative to outsource testing, one that comes with the perks of greater technical resources. The decision between the two comes down to your personal preference, and what advantages of each will be a better fit for your organization’s software testing needs.
Do you have experience with either outsource or crowdsource testing? Which do you prefer and why? Let us know in the comments section, or join the conversation on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.


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Thanks to flickrsven for the use of their photographs.